Saturday, July 28, 2007

The right fixtures

As I was writing my last post, I suddenly remembered about something that I must write about. One of the places I have seen for rent has the most incredible bathroom sinks and I was quite tempted to take that apartment based solely on that, even though the rest of the house was not all that great. A great bath and kitchen are what I look for in an apartment as the rest of the house can be created with soft furnishing and paint, but these two rooms must be equipped to the max.

slight pause

Well, this is about it for now, and I will be taking a break from blogging for a few days, well a break from home at least, as I will be getting my internet disconnected in a bit. I will go in to the office to check mail now and then, but until we get our own internet connection, I will not be blogging on a regular basis.

New apartment, new furniture, new everything

These days it seems that our world revolves around packing and our realtor who is helping us find a new apartment. While most of the packing has been done, now we need to focus on finding the new apartment, move in and look for furniture and appliances for it. We decided not to take any of the furniture of appliances with us, since it does not make any sense at all and we can get better and all new stuff there itself. The work involved is a lot more, but then new furniture will be the perfect accompaniment to our new apartment.

How I look for a new home

We've been looking for an apartment for a while now, not very seriously actually, since we have to go there to find one, but till then we've been searching online, and even had a look at a luxury home. I find that it's very easy to get distracted when looking for a new place to stay and stray away from what one really requires, so it is essential to have a list of the essentials at hand. I also carry the dimensions of my larger pieces of furniture and appliances such as fridge and washing machine, so that I can ensure that there is enough space for them.

The rain has found its way again

After days and days of no rain or barely a drizzle, we are finally getting some decent rain again. The timing is quite good actually, since we shipped our stuff yesterday and now have just a few errands pending, mostly in our local area, besides one trip to the airport. If it weren't for our errands, it would be the perfect way to spend a saturday, lazing, reading the papers, watching a movie on the laptop and catching up on some sleep.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Looking for an apartment

Even though we are so close to moving and have even shipped some of our stuff to be stored, we are yet to find an apartment, as we can only do that once we reach. We've been looking at lots of sites online that provide details on apartments, but unless one has seen the apartment in person, it's hard to decide for sure, if one really wants to live there or not. What has been helpful is this guide that I've spent time reading, which gives lots of information on moving tips, finding apartments etc. At the time of moving to an apartment, there are tons of things one needs to keep in mind and invariably in the rush, one forgets something or the other. But using an apartment guide, makes it easy to keep track of how to look for an apartment and even offers links to various apartment sites. One often things that moving to an apartment is easy work, but the amount of time involved is much more than one imagines and it makes it so much more efficient to use the resources of a site such as ApartmentGuide.com, who is able to make the transition so much easier.

and our things have finally been shipped....

It's been a hectic few days and I haven't had any time to even sit down for a few minutes to check my mail or blog. The packers were here for most of the day and our things have finally been packed and shipped. So now, we have only the basics, which we need to take with us. I still have some pending work with my various utility bills and need to sort through lots of paperwork as yet. But since my internet connection will be disconnected tomorrow, I'm sure to have more time to do all the work. So the blog will be silent for a while......

Setting up a home office

Having a home office set up is becoming increasingly important as people are flexi-working and the need for office furniture is becoming all the more important. I prefer to have a set that is not too office like but still has all the essentials that make working easier and more efficient. Storage is something that I look for first of all, since I don't want to see any clutter at all and the overall look of the furniture should also go with the rest of the house.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Singapore info site


If you're heading to Singapore, then you must check out Streetdirectory.com which is the number one travel and mapping site for Singapore. The site receives more than 600,000 unique visitors each month and generates 30 million page views. The site offers one of the most comprehensive mapping systems for Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia and is chockablock full of lots of details, regardless of whether you are a tourist, a local or an expatriate. So, whether you're looking for a great place to eat at tonight or a hotel or a map to find a particular shop, Streetdirectory is the place to go to for all things.

Finding parking at airports

Parking can be a major problem at airports and it makes sense to book in advance and save some money by booking at one of the nearby car parks. Since these services are available online, it is easy to book and reserve a spot well in advance, all from the comfort of your home. Parking4less.com is one of the notable sites where you can find cheap airport parking, and even book at one of the bristol airport hotels nearby.

The site has parking information on 20 UK airports and offers lots of discounted prices, along with free shuttle services to the airport terminals. Bristol hotels, such as Days Inn and Town & Country are located close to the airport so you get there in advance and rest up before you board a long flight. A lot of Bristol hotels have deals available where they offer free parking with hotel reservations.

More competition on the travel booking front


I found a new travel site this morning and its called Bezurk and it seems like a pretty good site so far. Bezurk deals in flights, hotels, car rentals, as well as package tours and holidays. The difference between Bezurk and other travel booking sites is that Bezurk only tells you what the best prices are and will connect you with the travel website where you can actually make the booking. I was quite surprised with the number of new travel sites from where it was getting great deals. The confusing part was that for some of the hotels, the rates listed on Bezurk were much lower than the actual rates at which the hotels were available. So, I ended up going back and forth to find the right hotel and price.

Looking good amidst all the chaos

In all this chaos of packing and moving, thank god for my skin care products that are keeping my skin under control. I find that I like to have one really great brand that I use and that's it. I hate to complicate things and don't like to use endless products just for the sake of using them. I prefer to streamline things and use only the essentials, and if you go with a good brand, then the essentials are all you really need.

On buying new furniture

Next week this time, I'm going to be getting set to go furniture shopping for our new home. I'm looking forward to it although it is a bit overwhelming to have to buy everything from scratch all over again. But it will definitely also be a fun experience, I'm sure. I already have a general idea of the kind of stuff I want to buy, so that will be a good point to start from. One thing I'm sure off, is that I do not want anything too heavy or solid looking, I want more of a contemporary and even modern look this time.

Keep track of local events with Eventful


I've been browsing through a site called Eventful, that lists events in your local community or for any city that you'd like. Started in 2004, the site has become one of the leading directories for events, and has led to the creation of lots of similar companies. Using Eventful, it is possible to keep track of a wide variety of events taking place in the local community, from music concerts to political rallies, sports events or seminars. It's a good way to get to know a city in a completely different manner. You can mark events to be watched and export them via feeds or email alerts or even sign up for a weekly email that will keep you up to date with everything that is going on in your area.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New closets for our new apartment

As the time for our move nears, I have been figuring out the kind of closets I want to put in. While I'm not a shopoholic, one still manages to collect quite a bit of stuff that one needs to store and there's nothing quite like having a great closet cabinet to store it in. I'm not sure of what type of cabinet I want, but I definitely want something that is super efficient and well sealed. I hate having dust get into my closets and it must be extremely high quality stuff, so I don't need to worry about such things later on.

Lists, lists and more lists!

I just realized that I have written three posts in a row about lists of some sort. One was a travel directory, another was a parking and airport services directory and the third was a directory/listing of events in your local area. I didn't plan to do it, but it just happened by chance that all the items that I has bookmarked for blogging were to do with lists!!

Get to know your city all over again with Upcoming!


I've been checking out a site called Upcoming, which lists events in your local area or events in any city or area that you want to see. I came upon the site by chance and I like the look of it so far. The listings are nicely organized by type and in the sidebar there are comments and items that are discovered recently by other members. Each event has a description of it, along with details such as website, the name of the member who has submitted it and names of members who will be attending it. It seems like a very interesting concept to me, one that I am sure to use to find new things going on once we move. Getting to know a new city is not always easy, and this is sure to make things a lot nicer.

Find parking at Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and finding long term parking there can be a problem. The last time I traveled from Gatwick Airport, we used a off site parking which had a shuttle service to the airport. It's a great way to save money just by checking where to park and booking a spot for you car in advance. Cheap-parking.net has created a listing of all facilities available at Gatwick Airport, including parking, facilities available at the terminal, an airline directory, visitors information etc. As someone who is more familiar with Heathrow, having this information at hand was a great help.

It works in an extremely simple manner; all you have to do is select where you would like to park your car and book it online. You will need to print the booking voucher and show this to claim your spot. Transportation to the airport is complementary and usually just 7-10 minutes away. There is also a valet service available at the airport, as well as short and long term parking.

A new travel directory site


Have you seen a travel site called Triporiginator? It's actually a travel directory where you can find information on travel sites to every part of the world. All sites that are submitted are checked by their editorial team before approval and are categorized by location as well as subject. The site is actually quite different from all other listings of travel sites, in the sense that you can decide where you want your site to appear by buying ad credits. It does seem to be an interesting concept but I need to take a more in depth look at it as yet, which I hope to do so in the next week or so.

The art of communicating

The systems involved in running a business are getting more dependent on technology, and are also becoming quite intuitive. Communication is the tool of the moment, one that connects us all and having an intranet software in place is one of the most important aspects when starting a business. Epazz offers such a solution and is currently giving away a 30-day free trial of their software. Using their system, it is possible to manage and keep track of everything, from back-end systems to improving work flow. The system is simple to use and easy to install and has a secured access to ensure that all data remains safe.

Furnished or unfurnished?

I've been searching for a new apartment and have found several sites that allow users to upload pictures of apartments, which makes it so much easier than to go to see a place only to know immediately that it's the wrong one for you. While most of the apartments are the general run of the mill ones, some have lots of fancy additions and furniture, including things such as bathroom vanities and more. Having furniture definitely makes it easier to rent it out, although I prefer to select my own furniture.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Zoom in to earth

Google Earth created a lot of buzz right from the moment it started. Initially, it seemed as an amazing use of technology that already exists, but for a totally different set of users. With Google Earth 3D browser, you can zoom in to street level pretty much anywhere in the world. You can visit great monuments such as the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum in Rome, all from sitting at home.

Besides practical uses such as getting driving directions and maps to anywhere in the world, which I find extremely useful, the system can also be used for a variety of fun purposes, such as seeing your favorite star homes, checking if the fishing boats are back in the harbor or even if the ski slopes are up and running.

Get to know new destinations

I've been following a travel guide site called RealTravel for the past week and when I opened the page today, I saw that their home page was completely new. The changes have made the site quite dynamic as it is now even easier to access different pages from the home page. There are sections on the Featured Travel Bloggers, Travel Plans, Destinations, Things to do and much more. So, if you just feel like some vicarious travel, then you can browse through these articles and pictures, but if you are specifically researching a destination, you can dead directly there as well.

As a travel guide, RealTravel scores high marks for both ease of finding information, offering interesting information and involving travels and readers to share their experiences. I went in for a quick browse and before I knew it, I had spend 20 minutes reading a couple's account of their travels on a cruise ship around the world. They had written posts on each of their stops, complete with where they stayed, how they traveled, the history, the sights and sounds and lots of pictures of course. A travel guide is a great way to get ideas on new places to travel to, rather than the regular run of the mill destinations.

Need to downloads pics

I've been neglecting my Flickr photo page lately and have not added any pictures for quite some time now. I have 50 photos there at present and have quite a few that need to be downloaded from the camera as yet, but am just not getting any time to download it as yet. I've found some interesting photographs there and like to check out their new pics, which is made very easy by just adding them as your favorites. I have been using Flickr for several months now and quite like their system, and I wonder why I didn't sign up earlier.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Florence: my dream city


Anyone who has studied art or history must go to Florence at least once in their lifetimes. My fascination with Florence started when I took an art history class in my sophomore year in college and studied many of the beautiful and amazing buildings and statues in the city. As the birthplace of some of the most famous artists such as Michaelangelo, Florence was one of the finest cities in Italy, a city that inspired art, architecture, literature, poetry and all other forms of creativity.

I am yet to visit the city of Florence, but since it's one of my favorite destinations, I'm constantly checking out places to stay there, the best way to organize a trip there and so on. I found HotelClub in my search for Florence hotels and found that there are lots of rather affordable places to stay in the city. One doesn't usually associate cheap hotels with some of these architectural gems, but there are some affordable accommodations to be found in Florence. It is a city that welcomes all, artists and lovers of art and history more so than others.

If you're a history buff like me, then you'll love to stay at the Fenice Palace Hotel Florence which is located next to the Medici Chapels and just 100mts from the Duomo Square, with views of the Cathedral from some of the rooms. That would just be quite an incredible experience to wake up and see Brunelleschi's Cupola from your windows. The Fenice Palace Hotel has great rooms and prices as well, with rooms starting at just EUR60, which is an absolute steal for the kind of views alone.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On selecting the right wine


If you love to drink wine but are unsure of what to order, then you're going to love this site. Snooth is a great new way to learn how to select a wine and depending on your search criteria, it will offer you a variety of wine options that are suited to you. In essence, Snooth is a search engine specializing in wine.

So if you're looking for something to go with beef, just enter it into the search box and you'll have several wines to choose from. Each of the wines listed are rated by users who have tried it, so you can get a well rounded perspective of the wine, from the experts as well as the general consumers. Snooth was founded in 2006 by Philip James who was formerly the Executive VP at Wine Messenger, one of the leading online wine retailers in the US. All in all, I like their system. The interface is very smooth and the site is quite serene and it's definitely a site that'll I'm likely to use in the future.

Be green; ride a bike in Paris


Paris started an experimental bike sharing program this past week which has been named Velib and is being done to reduce the rising pollution in the city as well as increase physical fitness. Springwise reports that under this new system, customers can pick up bicycles at 750 self-service spots, where they provide credit or debit details required to rent a bike. Daily rentals cost EUR 1 for as many rides as you like, as long as each ride is less than 30 minutes. Bikes can be returned to any of the self-service spots and there are distributed very densely, with one every 300 metres or so.
The sturdy grey bikes come with a metal basket on the handlebars and are heavier than standard bicycles, built to withstand heavy use. In line with the program's green image, Vélib‘ maintenance staff get around town on 130 electrically assisted bicycles. A barge with 12 stops along the Seine will pick up bikes in need of major repairs. Cleaning staff drive electric vehicles and use rain collected on the roofs of JCDecaux offices.

Brisbane calling!


If you're going to visit Australia, then a visit to Brisbane is a must. Often overlooked by its more famous cities, Brisbane has lots of incredible sights to offer and exciting things to do, from adventure sports like kayaking, cycling, abseiling etc or concerts and cultural events. Brisbane as a city provides a great mix of options, so there is something for everyone to do, which is really the true test of a vacation. Hotels in Brisbane range from budget to luxury and it is possible to get some rather great deals at Asia hotels, which specializes in bookings for all Asian countries, including Australia.

While a lot of people think the hotels in Australia are expensive, it still is possible to get some affordable accommodation in hotels Australia which you might not be able to find elsewhere. I quite like the way the site is organized, since it makes it easy to find a hotel based on your budget or based on the star rating. While the site looks rather basic, it scores high on functionality, which is the number one thing that I look for in a site. It's definitely a site that I could have done my future bookings on if it were available for UAE as well. For all of Asia and Australia, Asiahotels.com offers great range of hotels and prices.

Memories brought back by music

I've got the Yahoo music playing my station and it just played Alanis Morissette's Ironic, which used to be my favorite song in college days. I new each and every word of the song and especially loved listening to it in my car, driving on one of the back roads to nowhere, exploring the countryside and nearby towns. This was a slightly different version, but it still resonated and brought back oh so many memories of my red Ford Escort, of Tuttle Creek, of Poyntz Avenue, and especially of taking the Wamego route to Kansas City rather than on Interstate 70.

I usually have a strong connection with music in each apt or city I have lived in, as in I can encompass my/our stay there, just by remembering the kind of music I/we used to listen to. It's actually quite interesting to note how my tastes in music have changed in the past decade. In fact, I wrote an article about what music I/we used to listen to in each place we lived in, which I still have not posted here. Must dig it up and share my music addictions over the years.

Edited to add: As I published this REM's Everybody Hurts, another one of my favorite albums from college days, was playing. Coincidence or time to pay a visit to the old alma mater?

Trippert: a new travel blog to explore


I read about a new blog devoted to travel today. It's called Trippert and its about sharing information with other travelers and bloggers. The site distinguishes itself from all other travel blogs by offering detailed information about destinations and travel related issues. At Trippert, users can share their experiences, ask for advice, put up photographs, and much more. The site is currently in beta phase and is quite open to suggestions from users to add to their range of services. I like everything I see so far, and I have already signed up as a member to get additional feedback and see how it works.

improving the golf game

They say that until you start playing golf with some stakes involved, you will never be able to improve your game. I've been playing golf on and off for close to 15 years now and sometimes I'm super at it and at others I can't wait to finish the game fast enough. My coach suggested that I start putting something at stake to really get serious about the game, as nothing like losing money to make you concentrate more, isn't it? I have tried it just a few times, it has seemed to work, although it could just be the newness of the concept.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

One-word meme

Here's an interesting one-word meme from the 2K Bloggers blog, that I am going to attempt to answer.

Answer these questions in only one word:

1. Where is your mobile phone? Desk
2. Relationship? Joyful
3. Your hair? Shiny
4. Work? Vacation
5. Family? Love
6. Your favourite thing? Contacts
7. Your dream last night? Driving
8. Your favourite drink? Hot Chocolate
9. Your dream car? SUV
10. The room you’re in? Bedroom
11. Your shoes? Flats
12. Your fears? Reptiles
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Content
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? Hubby
15. What are you not good at? Drawing
16. Muffin? Blueberry
17. Wish list item? L7
18. Where you grew up? Chandigarh
19. The last thing you did? Ate
20. What are you wearing? Dress
21. What are you not wearing? Watch
22. Your pet? None
23. Your computer? IBM
24. Your life? Superb
25. Your mood? Upbeat
26. Missing? Rain
27. What are you thinking about? Dubai
28. Your car? Sold
29. Your kitchen? Sunny
30. Your summer? Short
31. Your favourite color? Green
32. Last time you laughed? Morning
33. Last time you cried? Yesterday
34. School? Over
35. Love? Hubby

Well, I am surprised I managed to answer all the questions in just one word. A couple of them I really had to slow down to think of a single word, but for the most part, one just has to think of the first thing that comes to mind.

Shoes, shoes and more shoes!

Who doesn't love or want a pair of Air Jordans? The shoes have taken on an iconic status over the years and are sure to continue to become the favorite of newer and younger customers as well with their new designs. Some of the shoes have a great retro design that are a nice take on what keds are meant to be. Seeing these shoes reminds me of one of the most fun projects I did in college. It was a combined effort of Sarah and me and our assignment was to create an innovative window display of just shoes. We used lots of books to create stacks of each day of the week with a different style of shoe on each pile of books to show the variety of shoes in one week on campus. It was a hit and we received a great grade for it. Wish I had kept pictures of it though....well I do have them but they need to be dug out of the depths of all my albums.

Keeping up with rss feeds

With everything around me keeping me super busy, I'm not getting to read my subscribed feeds on a daily basis. Today I opened my Bloglines page and I had over 1430 feeds waiting to be read! How am I going to get through all of them, without marking them as read automatically. That's just not being fair to the people whose sites you have subscribed to, I feel. I have never marked feeds as read without seeing at least the heading to see if I am interested in it or not. Lesson is to keep checking them on a daily basis to keep up with them.

RealTravel: All you need to know before you travel

As an avid traveler, I spend a lot of my time either traveling or devote myself to reading about different destinations when I am not traveling. Last year, I was traveling for 72 days and simply loved every moment of it. Before I set out on any vacation or even a business trip, I always do some research on it so that I am prepared and know all the places worth seeing, and worth eating at. Rather than reading up on general travel or tourism sites, I prefer to read accounts of actual visitors on a travel blog like RealTravel, which gives a much more well-rounded account of a destination.

RealTravel is a travel blog and has articles written by real travelers, so it is possible to follow the trail of how to create the perfect vacation by using their tried and tested routes and experiences. I found some really great accounts about travels in Italy, specifically the Umbria region, which has got me really interested in visiting the area. If there is one travel blog that you should read in a day (well, besides mine!), it definitely should be RealTravel. The site is updated daily and has a very diverse range of subjects since its writers are spread out across the world.

Incentive for blogging

I wrote about my experience with Tata Indicom earlier this week in this post and was happy to find that a reader had known the person I was writing about and corroborated what I was saying about him. This is really what blogging is all about; to interact with people, regardless of whether they are known or unknown, to share thoughts and ideas and to contribute to creating a better way of communicating. I do hope that this kind of interaction continues to increase on my blog, since it is by far the best reward for having a blog.

The growth of a blog

Despite my day and a half off from blogging on Sunday and half of Monday, it's been quite a good run. I've been able to update my blog almost every day and write even 4-5 posts on some days. Interestingly, one of my reader's abg, has spent a lot of time studying my posting habits and created a bar graph in a post called Blogger's Block on his blog Harmless Tremors on the number of posts I have made in each year of my blog.

I started blogging in august of 2004 out of curiosity and although I wanted to write all the time, I was hesitant in writing about my emotions and feelings in such a public forum. With time I overcame this feeling and my blog became a great source of being able to have my say and write about anything and everything under the sun. In 2006, I started writing a lot on retail related posts on this blog, but as soon as I started my retail blog The Power of Retail in February 2007, I steered this blog back to its original course, travel and personal stuff. In the future, I hope to continue growing the blog both in readership and widening the reach of my travel posts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Decking a truck

Writing about my old college town brought back lots of memories of school days. I remember the first time I rode in the back of our neighbor's pickup truck, who was mad about truck accessories of all kinds. He would spend all his money only on his beloved truck and scrimp and save even on eating out or going for movies. It was both endearing and quite maddening. I had no idea the truck accessory business was so huge, but it seems that there are lots of people who will go all out to deck their trucks.

The Flint Hills of Kansas

http://www.kansasflinthills.travel/
The state of Kansas was very different from what I expected and quite unexpectedly, I never realized I would come to love it as much as I now do. My biggest concern before going there was that I was going to miss my beloved Himalayas, but when I saw brochure of Kansas State University which said that it was located in the Flint Hills of Kansas, I was prepared to go. The lure of the hills is magnetic for me and I am willing to go anywhere to explore a hill or a mountain.

The Flint Hills of Kansas are a beautiful and old landscape, one that has witnessed history and culture of many generations and has a unique charm. When Dr Bill of Kansas Flint Hills left a comment on my blog some time back, it brought back so many wonderful memories of spending 5 amazing years exploring that wonderful area. Northeastern Kansas is simply breathtaking, especially in the spring and summer when everything seems to glow and the sky looks bigger than ever.

The Midwest has often been underestimated for its touristic value, but it is one of the best hidden treasures of the country, with the Flint Hills of Kansas being pretty high on the list. National Geographic has done a beautiful feature on the Flint Hills of Kansas in a 22 page article for its April 2007 issue. Kansas City itself is a wonderful city, the birthplace of Jazz and barbecue food, a city that is still wonderfully charming and modern at the same time.

Planning a trip to Australia?


If you're traveling to Australia, then a visit to Cairns is a must. The city of Cairns is the most famous cities on the Queensland coast for its a great mix of being tropical and relaxed while still having a bustling modern city centre where all the urban excitements are available. There are a wide variety of hotels in Cairns and even if you stay at some of the best hotels, you will still be able to have an economically great vacation. It's just one of the many attractions for visitors, apart from its amazing coral reefs, beaches and great vacation atmosphere.

For accommodation in Australia hotels, AsiaHotels.com is one of the most comprehensive sites where you can find the best of hotels at the most amazing prices. Whether you are looking for hotels in Australia or Asia hotels, the site offers a wide range of accommodation and prices. Besides a great listing of hotels, what I liked best about them were the customer ratings and reviews that give the true impression of a hotel as viewed by actual guests. There is also a detailed summary available on each hotel, with all the facilities, restaurants, recreation options available there. If its vacation you're thinking, then check the deals available here before making a booking.

On patience

Since we're on the topic of patience, thanks to abg's comment (his blog Harmless Tremors makes interesting very reading as well) on my last post, I thought it's time to reflect a bit deeply on the subject. So off I went to my favorite quotation site, Quoteland.com to get inspired.

“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”
-Danish proverb

"Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue."
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

"Patience makes lighter
What sorrow may not heal."
-Horace, Odes, 15

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Patience is also a form of action.
-Auguste Rodin

Travel problems

It seems that all travel plans we make, keep getting delayed, postponed or canceled. It's getting really quite irritating to have to constantly keep changing hotel bookings to due problems with airlines, or changing air bookings due to problems with visas. The combinations and permutations of all types of delays are seem to be affecting us, and just when we think that one problem is solved, another one arises, and so on. Do hope this whole thing will finish off soon, as it's getting mighty annoying.

See you in Sydney!

It might seem a bit early but it is actually a good time to get started on plans for New Year's Eve. Where I would like to be is Sydney Harbor, watching the fireworks with the bridge and and the opera house in the background. How amazing would that be? Sydney is a stylish city and I would want to stay in a Sydney Hotel with some creative styling and design. Widely acknowledged to be one of the best cities to spend a new year's eve, Sydney pulls out all the stops to create a magical experience for all its visitors.

An estimated 1.2 million people gather to see the spectacular fireworks display at Sydney Harbor at midnight, although celebrations take place every hour as well. Anyone can watch the fireworks for free, all you have to do is get there early to save your spot. Alternatively you can watch live coverage on television. If you're lucky you can even get a room at a Sydney Hotel from where you can watch the entire show. There really is something special about spending new year's eve in warm weather and Hotels in Sydney offer the perfect combination of style and price to create just the right vacation. I think it's a great idea to plan in advance and spending new year's eve in Sydney seems to be the perfect way to usher in a new year.

New pic in the sidebar

Just changed the picture in the sidebar. This one was taken a couple of months back when we spent the day in town, ate lunch at Cafe Basilico near the Radio Club and checked out the art galleries in Kala Ghoda. It was taken in the car as we were driving on Marine Drive, so it's a pretty decent shot considering.

Here's a larger version on the picture:
Bombay-Malabar Hill

Monday, July 16, 2007

A few good men still work at Tata Indicom

No posts for the past couple of days thanks to Tata Indicom playing truant. Just when I started to think that they were doing a pretty good job, I was brought down to earth with a thud. What happened is that the place where I have been making my payments, the ICICI dropbox in Lokhandwala has become defunct and so my cheque was lost in the process. And the surprising thing is that no one at the call center even knew that this has even happened, so they very happily suspended my account.

After spending the better part of my day chasing down the right people to contact to fix this problem, I was reluctantly told why it had happened and told to issue a new cheque. All this was fine, but they were stuck at not activating my account until they had received the cheque and put it for clearing, which would take them another few days.

Their stance was really most unhelpful, until I finally got through to the person that mattered and he said that he would activate my account and send someone to pick up my cheque. He was true to his word and my internet was back on in less than 5 minutes. Hats off to Mr Anil Sinha for his great can do attitude and following through to fixing things rather than sticking to nonsensical bureaucratic rules.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Getting perfect vision

I've been thinking of getting Lasik surgery for quite some time now, but haven't really been able to decide where the get it done. The process is a bit complicated since I have astigmatism and wear rigid gas permeable lenses currently. I have heard though that Monovision Lasik is able to be done with contact lenses as well, which would be a big plus for me. Once the procedure is complete, I would not require glasses or contacts at all. Monovision has been approved by the FDA which is an important factor in making my decision on where to get the monovision Lasik procedure done. It's an important step that I would be taking and need to consult as many sources as I can.

Lots of posts today!

Considering that I haven't had much time to blog in the past few weeks, today has turned out to be a mega blogging day!! It's been simply ages since I last posted more than 3-4 posts across my blogs, but today I have posted way more than that already. My stats have slowed down a bit due to my lack of posting and it will be nice to get some of my readers back with posting regularly. It does feel great to be posting more often again, although it's not likely to last!!

Selecting leads

In today's business world, knowing the right people and having the right lists is the difference between success and failure. Direct marketing has come out of the shadows that it once inhabited and now takes center stage in all marketing decisions. Rightly so, the entire concept of direct marketing has changed and with it the perception that went along with it. One of the leading direct marketing companies is Martin Worldwide, which functions out of an office in Westlake Village, CA. The company has created a name for itself with its newest product ResponseCom, which combines over 100 demographic and psychographic factors to create new lists, including specific ones for Travel leads and so on. Using ResponseCom, it is possible to compile, track and optimize existing lists into a powerful and effective database.

How to make the week fly by

I can not believe just how fast this week has flown by. It seems like it was Monday just yesterday and now its Saturday afternoon already. How is it that some weeks drag on and on and others fly by; and in both cases one could be swamped with work? Is it just how much one enjoys the work one is doing, or if one is more productive one week than the other, or if makes more money one week than another? Lots of combinations and permutations to come up with the perfect recipe of a work week flying by and being productive and having fun and making pots of money!!

The risk of aping celebrities

The rise of celebrities and the magazines that are devoted to them have led to an entire industry of by products that are inspired by them. The average consumer wants to be like their favorite celebrity, eat like them, look like them and of course spend like them as well. Products like ionamin are suddenly becoming favorites of consumers who had no idea what it was earlier, thanks to the trend of looking like celebrities. Most people don't realize that celebrities work hard at looking good, investing a lot of time and energy in taking care of themselves since they need to look good for the long term and not just use a short term fix. The risk is completely on the consumer and not the celebrity they are aping.

No worries about space!

I am so glad that I work on a laptop so I don't have to worry about transporting a desktop computer. That would have been just too cumbersome to handle, I think. The world and our lives is such that we don't really need to have a regular PC anymore and since we travel so much, and I often need to continue working no matter where I am, a laptop is the only solution. So far, I haven't had any issues with shortage of space, but if I do I can get hold of some Dell Memory and just add it on. It's quite simple to do it, I believe.

Making my Ikea list

Even though we've been so busy with getting everything sorted out here, I haven't been able to resist checking out Ikea's online catalog for ideas of stuff to buy once we move. I have found some really nice stuff at Ikea already that I definitely would like to pick up and other things that I would have to go and examine at the store itself. I do hope that I won't have to put everything together myself and that there will be a service division to put together everything.

Tickets to fun

If you're thinking of going to Disney World this summer then look no further than Orlandofuntickets.com to get you set up with Discount Disney Tickets and all the tickets you need for all the other theme parks in the Orlando area. The high price of theme park tickets is the most expensive factor in planning a theme park vacation, but at Orlandofunticktes.com you can get great deals and save yourself money to spend elsewhere. Whether you are looking for Disney Magic Your Way passes or tickets to Pleasure Island or Typohoon Lagoon, they are all available at Orlando Fun Tickets. Don't take chances with buying expensive tickets at the last minute and book your tickets quickly!!

Ideas

Some quotes on ideas here that I found on Quoteland.com, which is by far the best quotation site on the internet. I love the way quotes are sorted and it's ease to find them either by topic or by author.

These quotes are especially thought provoking since they affect all of us, that too in our daily lives. Ideas are what motivate us, inspire us to newer and better things and lead us to new endeavors.

"Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."
-Howard Aiken

An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones. We should have patience and see whether the incoherency is likely to wear off or to wear on, in which latter case the sooner we get rid of them the better.
-Samuel Butler

"The people who oppose your ideas are inevitably those who represent the established order that your ideas will upset."
-Anthony D'Angelo

"You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea."
-Medgar Evers

Keeping track of work done

Just came across something called Slim Timer that gets rid of time sheets etc. With this tool, it is possible to create tasks and share them with coworkers and subordinates. It is also easy to time the work that you have put in and check it off once it is complete. The best part of this tool is that it is possible to run reports with work done not only by you but also by coworkers and subordinates, so that you have a comprehensive report of all work put in for a project.

The best way to find accommodation in Perth


Are you heading to Perth? There is some great information on hotels in Perth that can be found at Rates To Go, one of the best sites for finding last minute Perth hotels. Most people think that one can only get good hotel prices if one books in advance, but the fact is that while some good rates are available a month in advance, prices keep rising until the very last minute when they drop drastically and you can end up with a room rate that is lower than what you could have booked a month in advance.

The tricky part is finding where to look for these rates and that is where Rates To Go comes in, with its comprehensive listing of last minute accommodation rates in many cities, including rates for hotels in Perth. Hotels are categorized by star rating and price so it is easy to hone in on exactly the kind of hotel and price you are searching for. Perth Hotels in general offer competitive rates, but these are the best rates you are likely to find anywhere. Using a site such as Rates To Go, you might be able to find a 4-5 star hotel and pay what you usually would for a 2-3 star hotel. Besides lower rates, Rates To Go makes it easy to just find last minute accommodation, which can be a huge problem in itself.

Friday, July 13, 2007

On travel sites

It's always fun to find a new travel site to try out. Since we travel on business or leisure every month, it becomes easy to check them all out one at a time. In the past year, I have found some really great travel sites that I personally use. There are also lots of other great sites that I have found that offer good information and rates, but not for the area we live in, so they are bookmarked for later use.

Some of the sites that I have liked are Holiday City, Side Step, Last Minute, Air Ninja, Cheaper than Hotels, Home Exchange Travel, Rates To Go and Vacations.net. While this is not a comprehensive list, these are some of the nicer sites that I have tested and liked recently. I have a travel folder in my bookmarks where I store all this information, so it is easy to find each time I need to do a booking.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A reason to blog!

Thank god I didn't think like this when I started my blog! I might not always have something thought provoking or insightful to write about, but even writing about personal stuff is something of a stress relief exercise for me. It's also my place to let the world know what I think and write just for the sake of having my say, and this is what a blog is all about.

If all blogs were perfect examples of journalistic endeavors, they would look like boring magazines.

Think Before You Blog

Easy rental systems

Setting up an event is never as easy as it seems, especially when it comes to technology issues such as having the right equipment such as computers, printers and projectors. For any event, such as trade shows, seminars or intra office meetings, it is essential to have the right equipment or your event is sure to be doomed. ComputerRentals.com is one of the leading providers of technology rentals, and have the best choice when it comes to PC's or Mac Pro rental.

By providing companies with computers on short term basis, ComputerRentals.com can take care of all tech requirements effortlessly. Our company tried to manage our first event on our own computer rental requirements but it just didn't have that professional edge that was so important to have. The next time we held an event, we decided to outsource our it to a company who dealt solely in this sort of work and were experts at taking care of all the details. It turned out to be a great event, especially since they were able to take care of our MacBook Pro rental requirements and now we're never going back to trying to handle it ourselves.

The loss of a car

We sold our car yesterday and it feels odd to suddenly not have a vehicle. While earlier we didn't have too much outside work, now that the car is gone, we have discovered tons of errands to do and are going back and forth trying to get them done using public transport, which is an entirely new adventure in itself. So far so good!!

Galicia: experience the beauty of Spain

I've always wanted to visit Spain ever since I read James Michener's Iberia. The country has fascinated me no end and I would love to spend at least a month there, visiting the same places, trying out local delicacies and trying to understand the local culture and people. The region of Galicia is one place that is definitely on my list of must-visit places and one of the best sources of information on Galicia is Turgalicia, a site that has information on everything from accommodation to restaurants to local culture.

There is also a call center that provides information, if you would rather speak to someone instead. A vacation is so much more than just a hotel and the main tourist attractions of a city. It's all about getting under the skin of a city, getting to know it and love it like the locals do and it's only possible to do so, if one has the right kind of information about an area. The Galicia area of Spain has long attracted tourists and travelers and is famous for both its natural beauty and cultural heritage. At Turgalicia, you will be able to find the best hotels and restaurants, along with local attractions that should not be missed. It's a great start to a vacation to Galacia.

On local geography

The one thing that I am really going to miss about Bombay is the rain. Well, not the torrential and crazy rain we receive, but just rain in general. I've always loved the rain and to live in a place where it rains maybe just a few times a year, sounds quite sad. It will definitely take some getting used to, just it took to get used to living far from the mountains, not hills, but the real deal, the Himalayas.

Going to Kansas for my undergraduate degree was a shock for this reason alone. The have the Flint Hills there, which to my eye were not hills at all, so our perspective was completely different on what really constitutes a hill or a mountain. Branson in Missouri, which is a couple of hours drive from Kansas City, has lots of undulating hills but they are quite different to what we are used to seeing here.

For one, the way they make the roads there is very different as they never seem to follow the curve of the hills, and instead cut through them no matter what. So until one gets into Branson, one doesn't even feel like one is in the hills at all. It was a completely different experience. The Rocky Mountains are incredibly awesome and there's one stretch close to Glenwood Springs that the Colorado river, the train track and Interstate 90 are running alongside, with the river in the middle. That was one of the most amazing journeys I ever took.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Understanding colloidal silver

So, what really is colloidal silver? One is hearing so much about it lately but there are some confusions to it. True colloidal silver refers to silver particles rather than silver ions. One of its purest forms is Mesosilver, which is 0.9999 pure silver in colloidal form and is thus a true silver colloid. This natural mineral supplement has the highest particle surface area, which increases its effectiveness more than 600 times than other products. There are no adverse side effects to taking colloidal silver and it does not interfere with any medicines either. With an infinite shelf life and no refrigeration required once it is opened, it's extremely simple to store, which makes it much more usable to a greater number of people. Colloidal silver has cured hundreds of diseases and is one of the best all natural remedies one can take. Read up on testimonials on their site to see for your self at how it works.

On personal attachments

So, our home is starting to look a bit bare now as things are going. I get attached to things that I own quite easily and it took me quite a while to come to terms with the fact that it just didn't make sense to hold on to these things just for the sake of holding on. One needs to be practical as well, so little by little, I accepted that we would have to dispose of everything and start afresh in our new city and new home. As hard as that decision was, once I accepted it, the whole process has become so much easier.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New pic in the sidebar

Lack of posts here due to our moving process. I'm on a break from work these days...although am still working on some delayed work since I fell ill a couple of weeks back, but otherwise all our sorting and organizing and planning is keeping me super busy. I just changed the pic in the sidebar, which has been long overdue. This one is of some of the winter flowers in the garden, mostly chrysanthemums from this angle, but there are lots of dahlias, nasturtiums and poinsettia as well. This is my favorite spot to sit and read my book and drink some coffee when I go home.

Here's a larger version of the picture:

Winter flowers

Friday, July 06, 2007

The moving process

The whole packing and moving process is going on around us and we're getting everything organized for either selling or packing and shipping to our new location. Moving per se is hard enough but moving to a new city in a new country is much harder. We know, as we've already done it several times. The only difference being that we were younger and had fewer things, whereas now we have built a collection of things that have become important to us enough that we don't want to let go.

There are lots of moving companies out there, but one should only go in for the best such as Relocation.com, as it can lead to lots of problems if you go in for a sub standard company. It's especially important when it comes to international shipping, that you take a company that has established credentials. We've decided not to take some of our larger furniture items as well as our vehicle, since it'll be easier to get a new one there. It is quite simple to go in for auto transport, it one were wanting to move along with one's car. Most moving companies have the option of getting someone to take care of all the packing and unpacking or letting you do a self-move, where the packing company only gives you the materials for packing, and they take care of moving it to the new location.

Getting closer to moving

Just doing my last few days of work now and then will only be concentrating on moving and all that it entails. It's hard to believe that we've been here for more than two years already, and at the same time, it just seems too soon to be moving again. It just makes us realize that we've got to pare down our household items to stuff we really need and want and anything beyond that is just superfluous. It's no point collecting things to only have to either sell them for nothing or throw them away when one moves. After all, there's only so much one can cart along with us each time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Book tickets for your NYC tour

Last year this time we were had just left NYC for Providence, RI and just remembering the lovely time we had makes me want to go back again. Late June and early July are the best months to explore New York City, when the weather is fabulous and there are always lots of events going on everywhere from the parks to the museums. One great way to see the city is by double decker buses where you can really take in all the sights. CitySights NY is one such company that conducts guided tours around the city as well as day trips to other major cities on the East Coast such as Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, the Woodbury Common Outlet Malls and Amish country.

There are also lots of options to see the city by boat, along the Circle Line cruises which vary from 3 hours to a short and frenetic 30 minutes. If you're up to it, you can also go in for a helicopter ride to see the city and its amazing buildings. If your book your tickets online, you will get $5 off per ticket which can add up quite nicely for a family or group traveling together. Plan your trip to NYC and don't forget to book your CitySights NY tour seats!

Trust vs technology

Ah, the conundrum of the protective parent!! The look of the cartoon character here reminds me of Richard Nixon somehow, I wonder if anyone else can see that too. Well, the nose of course isn't him at all, but the shape of the head, eyes and the hair definitely remind me of the former President of the US.

A Trustworthy GPS Tracking Device

Best time to head to the UK

Summer is a lovely time to be in the UK, although the summer I was there, it was unseasonably cold and only got warm in late July. I love the UK for all its history, since I am a real history buff, and loved visiting the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, where surprisingly Tower Bridge accommodation is not as expensive as I thought it would be. My other favorite destinations are Windsor Castle and the home of one of my favorite character's in history, Hardwick Hall, home of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury. A contemporary of Elizabeth I, she was rumored to be more wealthy than the queen herself and married several times, each time gaining in wealth and property. It seems that every corner of England is full with historical monuments and homes, and that is one of the best attractions for me to repeatedly visit the country.

While almost everything is rather expensive in the UK, it is possible to get some great last minute deals on accommodation in London at a site called Cheaperthanhotels.com. Traveling through the UK is a real pleasure, especially to areas such as the Lake District and Edinburgh which are two of the most beautiful area of the UK in my mind. Lake District accommodation can be quite charming and its a great place to spend a nice relaxing vacation, while Edinburgh is wonderful for its repertoire on history that I simply love.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What pushes you to achieve?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how some people are inspired by their own dreams and others by seeing success in others. So here are some quotes that I found very interesting on dreams, dreaming and being inspired by them.

"When one of your dreams come true, you begin to look at the others more carefully."
-Anon.

Cherish your vision and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.
-Napoleon Hill

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
-Carl Gustav Jung

All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.
-Orison Swett Marden

All quotes from Quoteland.com

Fond memories of Goa

Well, I decided to change the picture in the sidebar again, since the last one was quite grainy since I took it from inside the glass at dusk. This one was taken on our trip to Goa, of just the perfect reading spot outside our apartment at Club Mahindra Resorts in Varca Beach. I simply loved the resort, every little thing about it, from the location to the decor to the landscaping to the service to the food. The beach was a nice 2 minute stroll from our room, and there is no village by the beach so it is still clean and quiet, which is just what we wanted. It's definitely a place that I'd like to go back to again.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Godrej Lifespace plans to invest Rs 50 crore

Godrej Lifespace announced that it would be setting up 100 Lifespace stores to consolidate its presence in the home appliance market in the country by the year 2010. A total investment of Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for the venture. The Godrej Lifespace stores stock everything for the home and the office, including furniture, home appliances, security systems and lifestyle products. At present there are 48 Godrej Lifespace stores at present and the company plans to set up 20 more in the current financial year.

A new pic for the week

Didn't have time to change the picture in the sidebar last Monday, and haven't been taking any new ones either with being sick and all, but I did find a nice one I took last month of Powai, which I took from across the lake from the Park Plaza Hotel. I took this picture from the restaurant/coffee shop, and I regret not going outside to take it again, since there is a lot of haziness in the picture. Here is a larger version of the picture:

View of Powai from Park Plaza Hotel

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Planning a quick weekend getaway

Nothing like planning a vacation to get you going to being better again! I've got lots of work pending yet, but can't help thinking what it would be like to plan a vacation to a far off place. I've been fascinated with Spain ever since I read James Michener's book Iberia, which brought about a lifelong (well, so far at least) passion for all things Spanish, especially in terms of decor, food and music. Barcelona Hotels are still available at really good rates for this summer, especially in the Ramblas and Sargada Familia areas, where it's possible to get a really good four star hotel starting at 119 Euros. What is really quite unbelievable is that it's possible to get last minute hotel deals at 2 star to 5 star luxury hotels and even at hostels, so a quick weekend getaway thought of at the last minute might end up cheaper than planning months in advance.

One down, one to go!!

Whew...one assignment completed, one more to go. The pending one is the one that is the major amount of work, about 3 days of work at least, and I'm hoping to get it done as soon as I can. Nothing like having lots of pending assignments to spoil a weekend and being sick for the past 4 days just made it pile up so much more and I couldn't wait to get it off my shoulders.

Lack of infrastructure could be the downfall of retail boom

The lack of infrastructure in the country could be the downfall of the Indian retail sector, according to industry experts at a retail conference organized by the Indian Retail Forum (IRF). It was emphasized that before companies make expansion plans, they needed to concentrate on setting up supply chains and logistic facilities. A study released earlier this week by Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj has already highlighted the need to improve infrastructure, logistics and manpower which unless addressed would lead to a shakeout in the industry.

A green escape

What's the best way to get over an illness? Start planning a dream vacation and you're sure to have the right incentive to jump up out of bed and get started on working towards your goal of getting there. All this rain here is making me want to visit another rainy spot, Dublin which is famous for its lush green countryside, beautiful surroundings and history. Believe it or not it is possible to get Cheap Hotels in Dublin, even at the last minute, even some pretty great 3-stars starting at just 55Euros. Cheaperthanhotels.com has lots of great options available or travelers to Dublin and I'm bookmarking the site for when we make a trip there. S has already been to Dublin ages ago, but we now hope to do a trip together soon.

Back on track!!

OK, so I'm finally feeling better now and have been able to catch up with some of my work today. I can't ever remember being so miserable before when I was sick, but I guess that's what a full case of a flu entails!! Just really glad its over now, and I can get back to being normal again. Each time I get sick, I promise myself, that I must have all the medications and other stuff handy at home for the next time, but I never do and usually end up wasting almost a day in getting started taking the medication and thus delaying the whole recovery process. Live and learn I guess!!